OXON HILL – With the majority of last year’s core roster returning, expectations will be high for the Oxon Hill High School girls basketball team this season. For Head Coach Devone Williams, their experience will be key to make this year a successful one.
Returning for his seventh season at Oxon Hill, Williams said that this squad is no different from last year’s that finished the regular season undefeated. Their experience level allows for other players to set up in leadership roles while the more veteran stars will hold their teammates more accountable than in the past, Williams said.
“Not a huge difference from last season, the starting five is all intact with each other, but I’ll say our advantage is really experience on this team,” said Williams.
Last season, the Lady Clippers fell short of their primary goals of winning a title. First, Oxon Hill fell to Eleanor Roosevelt in the county championship on Feb. 22 and one week later, they lost at home against Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in the regional semifinals, ending their chance of competing the state competitions early.
This year, Oxon Hill will have more of a difficult schedule with more experienced opponents. After starting the season off with a home game against Rock Creek Christian on Dec. 10, they will face Boca Raton (Florida) on Dec. 15 as part of the She Got Game Classic. The Lady Clippers will play at least one game in the Title IX Tournament after Christmas and their final non-conference opponent will be Riverdale Baptist on Feb. 9.
Williams said the challenging schedule will test his girls and prepare them for their conference games and possible postseason opponents.
“I think these games will be extremely important for us and I just think these girls are capable of having a winning season again but hopefully we go further this time,” Williams said.
Senior point guard Iyanna Warren, who recently committed to Howard, will be expected to continue leading the team as she did in during her time in the program. Last season, Warren averaged 15 points per game and received several postseason awards for her play.
After a great summer on the AAU Circuit, guard Mossi Staples returns to the Lady Clippers with her post-graduations set, committing to Northeastern University. The senior co-captain, one of the top three-point shooters on her team and in the county, will be working together with Crystal Monteiro, a rising junior guard who stepped up her shooting ability over the summer.
“(Monteiro) will be stepping out to the three-point line this season, she’s scoring at all three levels, and her improvement is just one of biggest jumps this summer,” said Williams.
Another role player that Williams said will be key to the Lady Clippers’ success is power forward Ishara Beckett. The junior will carry the majority of the rebounding and post playmaking responsibilities.
Even with all the veteran talent, Williams stressed that says they are not perfect yet as depth is a concern with four sophomores on their current roster. Their lack of game day experience is going to be addressed and tested early.
“We have some younger girls,” Williams said. “And you know at any given moment, (they) can be thrown in the game; I’m just not sure how they would respond.”
Despite the roster concerns and tough opponents, Warren said the team chemistry for the Lady Clippers is amazing and if it continues throughout the season, they will succeed in completing their goals for year.
“This season, we bring back that same strong core from last season,” said Warren. “We are all on the same page and have the same goals in mind for this season.”